“I remember the big white house on Steiner Street, and my little sister Dagmar, and my big brother Nels, and papa. But most of all, I remember mama.”
These words begin each episode of the Television series “I remember Mama ” as the narrator of the story, Katrin Hanson, flips through pictures in her family album. Katrin Hanson is the middle child of a Norwegian-American family living in San Francisco, in 1910. In the episode, “T.R’s Surprise Party” Mama and her family are planning a surprise party for a child called T.R that mama’s sister, Aunt Jenny, took in as her own. Amidst the joy of the party planning, Mr. Ryan, T.R’s absent father, returns with plans to take T.R away from the Hansen family and Aunt Jenny for good.
“I Remember Mama” is a classic domestic comedy series, which are known to portray the ideal family, in their ideal home. This TV series highlights the importance of the nuclear family and the values that a family should hold. Although it is denoted as a comedy, most episodes portrayed dramas and hardships that could affect the family, but in the end the strength of family love and support is enough to withstand any challenges the Hansens face. “I Remember Mama” was originally based on Kathryn Forbes's book ''Mama's Bank Account.”
Before a live show, and a play/film, it was a radio show starring Irene Dunne. John Van Druten turned the book into a play and then a film in 1948. “I Remember Mama” is an important precursor of the domestic comedies like, “Father Knows Best,” “Make Room for Daddy,” and “Leave It to Beaver,” that portray the same themes of family, comedy and drama.
The television series was Directed by Don Richerdson, and originally produced by Ralph Nelson. “I Remember mama” ran for eight years, from July 1st, 1949 to March 17, 1957 on CBS Television Network. What makes this show a success in the 1950s is the heart-warming mother figure Martha Hansen, played by Peggy Wood. The rest of the original main cast is Judson Laire as Papa Lars Hansen, Rosemary Rice as Katrin Hanson, Iris Mann as Dagmar Hansen, Dick Van Patten as Nels Hansen, Kevin Coughlin as T.R. Ryan, and Ruth Gates as Aunt Jenny. The main sponsor of “I Remember Mama” took advantage of the charisma of the actors and the family as a whole to advertise for Maxwell House Coffee, which shows that a loving mother like Martha Hansen only serves her family Maxwell House Coffee.